Stinky, nasty, horrible; welcome to hell. Please don’t touch anything.
Welcome to the third annual Kami’s.
Tomorrow will see my favourite ten games of 2013. But before we get to the good stuff; here comes some of the worst.
2013 has been a really ripe old year across all forms of entertainment; but in video games, we really have been spoiled for choice. Was it because people rushed their games out to capitalise on the end-generational push before brand new consoles arrived? Is it because big business has really managed to dilute everything down to the lowest possible common denominator? Or is it because, frankly, some people really didn’t care about themselves, their customers or their reputations?
Anyway, as is traditional, here’s a few “Runners Up”. They should be thanking whatever deities they believe in that they didn’t manage to get into the bottom ten. Because all of them would in previous years would have been more than worthy losers.
- NEVERWINTER – In a year where Square-Enix managed to somewhat rescue Final Fantasy XIV and make money from it, here is evidence of why some MMO’s really shouldn’t use microtransactions. That the game makes it as hard as possible to do anything without paying them money speaks volumes about their design ethos. And it stinks.
- THE WALKING DEAD: SURVIVAL INSTINCT – The worst part of Survival Instinct is deep down, there’s something to love about it. You could sense a respect and adoration for the subject matter buried just out of reach. The rest was frankly some of the buggiest, ugliest, most shoddy video gaming of the year. But because it has a heart; it just about gets away with it.
- DEADPOOL: THE VIDEO GAME – There’s nothing more painful than a real disappointment; this is where Deadpool fell down. All the previews suggested a sharp, wry, witty spearing of video game convention. The sad reality? That it relied heavily on that convention to make up the structure of the game. Hypocrisy at it’s most thoughtless.
- STAR TREK: THE VIDEO GAME – And missing an entry into the bottom ten by the skin of it’s teeth is a homage to the bad, bad old days of movie tie-in licensed garbage. It’s not that Star Trek: The Video Game is bad; it’s that at heart, it’s not even Star Trek; just another co-op tag shooter with a faint gloss of a property that it can never hope to be a part of.
- GAMES WITH STUPID BUSINESS MODELS – This covers Angry Birds: Star Wars for being a £40 RRP release of a £2 mobile app, Dead Space 3 for being a £40 release chock full of microtransactions and selling the damned real ending as a £15 DLC extra, and Ryse/Forza 5/Gran Turismo 6/The War Z for their microtransaction/season pass hell.
As I said, all of these games in prior years would probably have ended up featuring prominently in a bottom tens list. But it’s been one of those years; and so, reluctantly, I must now venture forth into the list proper. Excuse me one moment whilst I get on a Hazmat suit, because I’m not wading through this lot without some protection!
FAST AND FURIOUS: SHOWDOWN (Multiple Platforms)
In what has been a sad year for the Fast and Furious franchise, with the sad loss of Paul Walker in a car accident, it seems almost like I’m kicking a man whilst it is down with mentioning this game. But mention it we must; the game was a muddled confusion of racing genres, with sub-par graphics, shocking handling and predictable AI that would hardly have been passable on the PlayStation 2, let alone at the end of this generation. Boring, bland and uninspired, Fast and Furious quickly got buried under a mountain of criticism but not before we had a bit of a laugh at its expense. It looks cheap; considering the source material and the name, you’d think a little effort might have been made to make this something resembling the successful movies on which it is based. They didn’t. Just some cut and paste dialogue from the movies and a shiny logo and that’s as much effort as they could muster. Good job we forgot about it. You may now do so. Again.
Last year, Blizzard demonstrated why always-on DRM doesn’t actually work; and this year, EA and Maxis moved deftly in to demonstrate themselves everything that is wrong with demanding an Internet connection for a predominantly single-player game. The differences are Diablo 3 was eventually ‘fixed’; SimCity still has yet to enjoy the same luxury, nine months after its initial release. Small city areas, shoddy AI pathing, sloppy mechanics and woeful technical support only added to the misery that was the servers not working. It was a pretty awful year for EA in general; but SimCity demonstrated exactly why EA are voted as the worst company in the world. It tried so hard to spin good PR, it tried so hard to keep the peace even when it would have been better to just scrap the online connection. Which the game still has to this day; underlining the issue of companies simply not understanding their own technical limitations. A perfect mess.
RESIDENT EVIL: REVELATIONS HD (Multiple Platforms)
So you have a critically-acclaimed 3DS game. What to do next? If you’re Capcom, you do what you’ve always done; take it from its successful home and throw it on every other platform, spending huge sums of money in the process and not ensuring that the game itself remains intact or indeed, workable. Revelations HD just doesn’t work on home consoles; it’s not paced right, the controllers aren’t sharp or crisp enough for a game that requires such increasingly pinpoint accuracy, and then when you miss, it proceeds to brutally punish you for its own shortcomings. Add to this the despicable, disgusting Lady Hunk DLC and what you end up with is a ‘port’ that typifies Capcom’s slapdash approach to the issue; a hell of a lot of money, and for what? Capcom are apparently down to their last $125 million; a dangerously small sum of money in the bank for a once behemoth of the industry. Revelations HD is an example of just how Capcom got there. And what it has to change to survive.
FIGHTER WITHIN (XBox One)
The one thing Microsoft needed more than anything with the XBox One launch was to make damned-well sure, beyond all reasonable doubt, that games released requiring the Kinect 2.0 as the primary control mechanism worked. Sadly, UbiSoft published this little turkey to continue to undermine the very concept of the device. It doesn’t handle, you could twerk and get just as much as someone doing slow, calculated movements. The characters are woeful; and a lot of the time, the combatants go through scenes that remove you from the game proper. It’s not just that Fighter Within is a sequel that should never have got off the ground; it’s that Microsoft saw fit to champion it for a short period as a new era of Kinect gaming. And it isn’t, it isn’t, it so, so isn’t. It’s yet another sad, vulgar reminder that the last few years has seen nothing but abject disappointment with the Kinect. Oh, and Killer Instinct is also really good. Microsoft didn’t need this little turd at all.
FLASHBACK (XBox Live Arcade/PS Network/PC)
Is it a remake? It is a reboot? Who knows. And frankly, who gives a toss when the end result is like this. Taking one of the pasts most revered rotoscoped adventure platformers and making into an insipid, confusing, unworkable mess is frankly a horrendous fate for something that once brought joy to us all. The best part? The original was included in the package. Without any sound, of course. I mean, why would we want SOUND to go with our retro game, eh? What made this all the more depressing was the realisation that this new version was helmed by the original game’s director, Paul Cuisset. Who obviously must have believed that with the new technology and graphics on offer that he could make something better than the original. He couldn’t. And it’s a good reminder, alongside All The Bravest, that playing on nostalgia is one thing; to take advantage of it is quite another, and we cannot and should not tolerate the latter.
ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES (Multiple Platforms)
Holding on to be a part of this years worst’s list is the frankly abysmal Aliens: Colonial Marines. And what can I possibly say about it that hasn’t been said a hundred thousand times across the Internet? A shockingly dull, broken game advertised under false pretences and using footage and screenshots from a build that was as different from the end product as Jim Carrey is from Danny Dyer, the review embargoes and general dishonesty and refusal to accept blame managed to make the otherwise shiny Gearbox look like EA! On the upside, and perhaps it’s only saving grace, is that as a result of the fallout of this release, in 2014 a legal case will be heard in the US Courts, examining whether or not consumers were actively misled about the product and what can be done to stop it in the future. The really sad part? Gearbox and Sega both tried to have that case thrown out. Probably because they know that a closer look will prove consumers right. Ghastly!
ASHES 2013 (PC/Steam)
Was there any real question this would end up on my list? I wondered if I should include this for two reasons; one, the game was removed from sale completely and binned. And two, most purchasers of the game got their money back. But then; that’s kind of the only good to come out of it and even then, it’s the most damning indictment on the game than anything I could possibly throw at it. Buggy, broken, unplayable and hilariously awful in almost every regard, this game took several years to come to fruition, with multiple delays. It really does remind you that for all EA’s lame annual updating of core sports franchises, the reality is that by and large, EA Sports titles work and are in the hands of reasonably competent developers. Ashes 2013 is a game that came, died in a blaze of dishonour, and disappeared without trace. It was a glorious thing to behold; and a reminder that just when you think things couldn’t get any worse – they really, really do…
RIDE TO HELL: RETRIBUTION (PlayStation 3/XBox 360/PC)
Buried in 2008, presumably because someone noticed what a vile piece of craftsmanship they had wrought upon the world, new-ish publisher Deep Silver somehow got wind there was an almost-finished game lurking somewhere and what followed was a desperate scramble one assumes to get it to market. What we found was a game that wouldn’t have passed muster in 2003, let alone 2013. It looked awful, the plot was lame, the voice talent didn’t care, the design was all over the shop and that’s before you even get to the blatant sexism and misogyny, the celebration of drugs and the lame justifications of gang culture. It’s obvious that the reason this was buried five years ago was because someone grew a conscience and vowed never to let this see the light of day; they should have buried it deeper. It’s really hard to find any other title this year that offends every sense of your being quite like this. And that’s before the extensive catalogue of bugs, errors and glitches.
FAMILY PARTY: 30 GREAT GAMES! (Wii U)
Not even the Wii U could escape an entry into this years worst games list. The only people who could possibly have believed that this abysmal pile of garbage had ’30 Great Games!’ was the marketing departent; and I’m pretty sure, Moe Szyslak style, if you hooked them up to a lie detector they couldn’t possibly pass it. Party games have become something of a staple of the Nintendo line-up in the past eight years or so, which I’m guessing was the rationale for releasing this – quietly, of course. The voiceovers are unconvincing, the graphics are pretty shoddy and the minigames themselves are about as much fun as drowning. There’s nothing nice you could possibly say about it; other than it turns out most people were smart enough to actually avoid this pile of crap. Presumably because people might be learning now that if you’re going to buy a ‘Party Game’, it might be best to buy one that doesn’t come with an obviously blatant lie smacked across the front of the box.
But there can only be one truly worst game of 2013. A game stinkier than anything that stunk before it. And it is… *drumroll*
FINAL FANTASY: ALL THE BRAVEST (iOS)
Whilst there’s a peculiar spark of something about having tons of the Final Fantasy series most “prominent” heroes on a mobile screen smashing away at things, the chaos that it brings under a mountain of effects is disorientating and nauseating. But that’s not why I think it’s the worst game of the year; it runs much deeper. Some of the most insulting microtransaction practices and ideas, some of the most stupid content and for what? A mobile game that was frankly already a bit of a mess design-wise? Paying to resurrect fallen heroes is dire. Locking up the series more prominent names behind a paywall is lame – but worse when you consider that they pick one for you AT RANDOM, from a list of 35! So good luck if you’re looking for anything specific. All The Bravest isn’t so much a game as a series of monetised transactions; there’s no story, no plot, no gameplay. Just a game that relies heavily on nostalgia and the lack of consumer regulation to get away with what it does. It’s a genuinely hateful, awful piece of software.
But on the plus side, with new regulations for microtransactions coming in 2014, this should be the last year anyone gets away with this sort of rubbish!
And that concludes this year’s bottom ten games. You can rearrange the top ones; but the overall loser is non-negotiable for me.
Anyway, vile tripe done with; tomorrow will bee my top ten games of 2013. Which is at least something positive to look forward to. Until then, take care of yourselves.